ChefsforFeds, Fire Service Holding Free Dinner for Federal Employees

ChefsforFeds, Fire Service Holding Free Dinner for Federal Employees

Another federal shutdown possible Feb. 15

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Pete Piringer

Chef Jose Andres’ nonprofit food organization World Central Kitchen on Friday will provide a free dinner in Silver Spring for government employees who could still be feeling the effects of the monthlong partial federal government shutdown.

The county’s fire service community engagement team connected with Andres’ nonprofit #ChefsForFeds effort to organize the event at Blair High School.

“Even though the government went back, there’s still an impact on the workers, the contractors and their families,” fire service spokesman Pete Piringer said. “This is just a celebration of their resilience.”

Manna Food Center and Nourish Now nonprofits also will take part.

The fire department had previously held dinners and events for federal agencies that help fight fires in the county, such as the National Institute of Standards and Technology Fire Department in Gaithersburg.

The county’s fire service helped the NIST department in raising more than $6,000 for its firefighters, who worked without pay during the shutdown.

There are an estimated 80,000 federal employees in Montgomery County although not all were furloughed in the partial shutdown that started before Christmas.

In addition to a meal, Friday’s event will have a resource fair offering a variety of services. Organizers are bringing in advocacy groups, utility partners and other agencies to help federal employees with paying bills, finding day care and getting counseling, among other services.

These resources not only help people recover from the shutdown, but also help them prepare for another one, Piringer said.

A deal reached last month between Congress and the president keeps the federal government open through Feb. 15 and another shutdown is possible unless another budget compromise is reached.

Organizers are preparing for 500 to 1,000 attendees, Piringer said. Federal employees are encouraged to RSVP online. Other residents are invited to attend with a donation of non-perishable or canned goods.

County Council member Tom Hucker, who represents Silver Spring and is helping with Friday’s dinner, had his own event in mid-January, drawing more than 600 to a community potluck in Silver Spring.

“Even though the shutdown has paused, federal employees and contractors continue to struggle with its consequences,” Hucker said in a statement. “Workers have contacted my office for help with outstanding bills, health insurance issues, eviction notices, mental health support and even more. We are coming together because Montgomery County is such a caring and supportive community.”

Friday’s event is part of World Central Kitchen’s #ChefsForFeds effort, with restaurants across the country providing free hot meals to government employees and their families.

Jaleo Bethesda and Beefsteak at Westfield Montgomery mall were among the more than 100 participants.

“World Central Kitchen’s #ChefsForFeds initiative has served hundreds of thousands of meals across the country to federal workers and families impacted by the shutdown,” World Central Kitchen Executive Director Nate Mook said in a statement. “We’re proud to see Montgomery County take part in #ChefsForFeds and set up this dinner for the many federal workers in their community.”

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